A boy born into slavery who taught himself to read and write
A young man who escaped to freedom in the North
The father of the civil rights movement
Born into slavery in Maryland in 1818, Frederick Douglass was determined to gain freedom–and once he realized that knowledge was power, he secretly learned to read and write to give himself an advantage. After escaping to the North in 1838, as a free man he gave powerful speeches about his experience as a slave. He was so impressive that he became a friend of President Abraham Lincoln, as well as one of the most famous abolitionists of the nineteenth century.